Traducir es demasiado / Heriberto Yépez

Translation Is Too Much

Translation can be intriguing work. Here is a minuscule list of what translation can be.

Translation can be pleasant. If you choose a language you know well and pick a book or an authorship that fascinates you, translation will be a pleasure.

Translation can be the perfect crime. The best thing is to read but the biggest temptation is to write. Translation combines both poles. With the pretext of two languages, a translator is someone who writes what he reads.

Translation might be the best contribution a bibliophile can make. Cultures such as ours need to translate many works (from literary to scientific). There should be no more fellowships to create poetry, short stories or novels, but rather fellowships for translation.

Translation could be the best sub-employment given to beginning writers.

Translation can be unpleasant. Translation doesn’t pay well. Besides, save for books that are successful in their original language, translations are almost never reviewed. But if you commit three mistakes in three hundred pages, that can change. If you want your translation to be reviewed, make enough mistakes.

Translation can be deceiving. I know writers who have translated four poems by Baudelaire and call themselves his translator. Translating a few pages and proclaiming yourself a translator is like writing micro fiction and calling yourself a novelist.

Translation can betray. If the transcreator is a writer with many resources, transcreation is a valuable game; if it’s a mediocre transcreator, the experiment shouldn’t happen. It’s more difficult to translate well than to have all types of ideas for transcreation.

Translation should be faithful to a text that’s loved in a polygamist situation.

Translation can have a great advantage: there are thousands of works whose rights now belong to the public domain. Many of them circulate on the Internet. All you need is to know two languages well, to arm yourself with months of patient work and a few more of impatience with yourself to finish it, in order to translate a book and contribute to the education of humanity. Surely no one will thank you for it.

Translation is a direct conduit to criticism. Being careful with each one of your words opens the path to becoming one of the experts on that text. Translation ends with a prologue.

Translation is maniacal. If someone who today dedicates himself to literature knows more than one language but doesn’t translate, he hasn’t gone crazy. When you read foreign authors that fascinate and you know that others can’t read them, a demon appears and forces you to translate.

Translation can be defined as the demon of sharing what isn’t yours but which you think should belong to others. And, in any case, you want to take the credit.

Translation is already being done by machines. But machines still don’t translate well. Translation can still be too human.

{ Heriberto Yépez, Archivo Hache, Suplemento Laberinto, Milenio (México D.F.), 16 November 2013 }

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